tv European Journal KCSMMHZ October 6, 2012 8:30am-9:00am PDT
♪ >> hello and a very warm welcome to "european journal" coming to you from dw studios in brussels. it is good to have you with us. this is what is coming up -- daily cocktail -- tainted alcohol in the czech republic. controversial mines -- gold rush in spain. and flexible giant -- polar bears in the arctic summer. >> the czechs hard to beat when it comes to drinking alcohol.
statistics say they consume more than any other eu nation, but they have also made a name for themselves as alcohol producers. the original budweiser beer, for instance, comes from the czech republic and not from the u.s. but hard liquor is also in high demand, and it is expensive. the czech police have arrested members of a gang who made a fortune selling tainted liquor. more than to give you a dozen people died after drinking it, and numerous others are less scarred for life. >> vladimir drank just one glass of from the fourth watching a football game, but something tasted wrong. now he is lying in bed in the hospital blind and seriously ill, just like 20 others in his neighborhood. >> it was like somebody suddenly turned the lights off. everything went great. then my daughter brought me to the hospital. by that time, i could only see silhouettes.
>> now? how's it now? >> now everything is start. completely black. i cannot even see my hand here. nothing. >> but vladimir is still alive and luckier than some. pathologists have examined over 100 fatalities in the past three weeks to determine whether spiked alcohol could be the cause of death. >> the symptoms are similar. first, the patients have problems with their eyesight. they go blind. then the methyl alcohol starts to affect the brain. the patients lose consciousness and in some cases, they die. >> the police are going through the streets, warning people not to drink alcohol if they do not know the source, especially not vodka or rum. it could be deadly. after banning exports of check alcohol, authorities have now banned all sales of spirits to protect against any further
debts -- after banning exports of czech alcohol. shop owners say the financial impact will be catastrophic. alcohol is cheap in the czech republic, and counterfeit brands are common. in small kiosks, around every fourth bottle is a fake. a small bottle of bud goode goes for around the equivalent of 60 cents. although officially forbidden, distilled spirits at home has a long tradition in small towns. people on the checks/slovakia and border call this woman granma moonshine. she has been distilling plum schnapps for years. it is saved for special occasions and given only to friends, not sold. the alcohol responsible for the recent wave of deaths was mass- produced, and large amounts of it were sold in bottles with
fake labels. this local distillers as it was only a matter of time before somebody made alcohol with all to cheap and toxic methanol. -- ultra-cheap and toxic methanol. >> in normal operation, this cannot happen. we have our ingredients tested and reviewed. this was a back-alley type of operation. instead of ethanol, methanol was used. maybe when a cleaner, for example. -- maybe window cleaner, for example. this type of thing only happens with small, illegal distilleries. >> the entire country is on alert. this couple is getting married, having the spirits for the wedding tested in a laboratory. >> we want to be safe, so our guests are not scared. >> but poor czechs cannot afford to have their alcohol test and
cannot afford international brands. this man says he needs to buy alcohol for two euros a bottle and now does not touch the stuff. we asked if he is scared. >> definitely. i am afraid to drink schnapps. it is very unlikely i will get poisonous alcohol, but i am not taking any chances. >> barkeepers in prague are protesting against the government ban. they can no longer sell expensive drinks to tourists -- only beer and wine. no one is happy. >> czechs are angry, really mad. drinking spirits is a national pastime. what do you expect. >> but over 20 people have died. the government had to do something. >> everybody suffers just because a couple of people made a mistake. one person sold a bad batch of spirits, and now 10 million
people have to suffer. >> the government is introducing new requirements for seals and proofs of origin. only bottles with approve labels will be allowed for sale and export, but many think moonshiner's will just take the new labels, and the new rules come too late for vladimir. doctors say he will never see again. >> spain's regions were once the symbol of democratic progress. for a long time, the regions are prospering and all was well in spain, but that changed dramatically when the financial crisis hit. now, many regions are on the verge of bankruptcy. today, the number of spaniards who can afford it beach is dropping, so it has rediscovered an old idea. >> for millions of years, this
little fishing village on the northern coast of spain has been sitting on a very treasure. while kohl lies underground inpe sitting on something much more valuable -- gold. even more valuable in times of crisis like the one spain is experiencing. a canadian firm plans to invest 150 million euros to mine for gold year. >> this project changes everything. it will become an industrial region. lots of suppliers will settle here and create lots of jobs. >> but not everyone here is buying that. everywhere, there are signs saying "note to gold, no to the mine." these people want to work, too, but not at any price. they say in a decade, when the gold reserves have been
depleted, the jobs will vanish, too. >> they have their shareholders, their investors. that is who they work for. if they succeed, which we hope they will not, they will come here, take everything they can, and then move on. we will be left with slag heaps, traders, dust, environmental pollution, and devastation. >> farmers fear that as a byproduct of the mining, toxic chemicals will be released into the environment and wind up in the food chain. >> conducting chemical analysis will not help me if there is poisonous stuff flying around in the air. or finding its way into the groundwater.
>> there is a tradition of mining in the area. 2000 years ago, the romans mind for goals here. it is thought to have one of the biggest gold deposits in western europe. mining here is lucrative, even if the excavation is costly environmental regulations strict. the people are divided on the issue. some residents are banding together to raise support for the mine. the mother of this young family is one of them. like 40% of the population, she is out of work. >> i hope that thanks to the mine, we will be able to stay and our family will have a future here. otherwise, we will have to move away.
>> but where to? the effects of the economic crisis are being felt across spain. in this region, there is little industry outside of traditional coal mining, and its days are numbered. the regional government could sorely use the tax revenue the gold mine would generate. the socialist-led government does not want to talk about the controversial project on camera. if the conservatives had their way, the mine would already be open and creating jobs. >> we thought gold mining was history here. but in recent years, it is once again -- it has once again become an option. it is not an easy option. but one that is full of opportunity.
>> gold is already being mined in the mountains. hear, excavations have left large craters and altered the entire landscape. >> there was once a deep valley. there was not much forest. it was mainly meadow. there were windmills' by the river, and over there was a little village. >> the mine has already created jobs here, and not just for minors. antonio gomez mendez works in the minds but also runs a bar on the side. so far, gold has brought him up -- brought him luck. >> without the mine, who would i sell beer to? no one. the place would be empty. the mine is good for the bar, the for everyone. >> for some, gold mining = economic opportunity.
in this village, many people see things differently. the mayor is opposed to the mind but is more concerned right now about the tensions the minds may have caused. >> public opinion is split, and discussions are becoming he did. we at city hall believed that the dispute in the village could end badly. >> yes to gold. no to gold. while some fear the changes the mine would bring, the unemployed see it as their salvation and missed the economic crisis. politicians have a tough choice about what to do with the hidden treasure. >> nuclear power seems to be losing its appeal as the
technology of the future worldwide, not least after the disaster in fukushima last year. even japan has announced it will phase it out, tremendous success for those who have been fighting against a source of energy they say is simply too risky. but some are still in favor of nuclear power, despite the risks. among them as belarus, one of the worst affected in the aftermath of chernobyl in 1986. yet, alexander lukashenko, known as europe's last dictator, is having a brand-new reactor built in his country. >> the northwest corner of belarus near the lithuanian corner, one of the lucky areas of the country that was not contaminated by the chernobyl nuclear disaster. a peculiar choice of location for the poverty-stricken nation to build its first nuclear power plant. the first buildings sport a
quote by victor lukashenko. the technology is russian. moscow's lending belarus nearly 10 billion euros to build this, the first of its kind. according to the government, the majority of belarussians support the project. we've been told to follow this white car to a place where we can talk. tatiana, like most others here, does not want to be seen speaking with western journalists, especially not if they oppose nuclear energy. she is comfortable talking here on her farm in the middle of the woods. tatyana has thyroid cancer. there has been a marked increase in the disease since chernobyl. she was a vocal opponent of the new plant until she was arrested under flimsy pretenses. she spent five days in jail and was denied her cancer
medication. it was a warning. now she is more careful. >> they have tapped my phone, so i do not use it anymore. i am not sure if i am being followed. i have not spotted them yet. i know they know me and can lash out anytime they want. no more threats are needed. >> tatyana says president lukashenko is assessed with the idea of having his own nuclear plant. it is also in russia's interest to build it as soon as possible. >> the world has been turning away from nuclear energy. clients for russia's nuclear exports are dwindling. our leaders -- our leader's manic desire to own a nuclear plant makes us an ideal match. we are a testing site for a reactor that has never been built anywhere else. >> the next day, we manage to get a meeting at the
construction site. two reactors are to be built here with the combined capacity of 2,400 megawatts. the pit is finished, and concrete is already being poured, but environmental activists say there is not even a final blueprint yet. the plant spokesman says the work so far is just preparatory and that nothing will be built without a blueprint. but he does confirm that there is, as of yet, no model of the reactor. critics, he says, are everywhere. >> some organizations are starting to actively resist the power plant. they want to put forward their views and say they represent popular opinion, but they are not succeeding. they are not sure why not. >> our next interview partner thinks he knows why critics do not stand a chance. igor also wants to meet us in
the woods, even though he says he does not have anything left to be frightened of. he has already lost his job. but still, he would rather be careful. this national park is one of two nature preserves the border directly on the construction site. the park includes a chain of 12 lakes -- christine, nearly untouched nature. igor used to run the park. he signed an open letter opposing the nuclear plant and was fired a day later. >> it was my duty to protest. i knew they would fire me, that i would never get another job. but who is going to speak up if not the park director? i suppose it was brave. even a few people in the local administration praised me for speaking out, but they did so secretly.
>> voicing criticism is dangerous in belarus. in the village near the construction site, most prefer not to say anything. how do you feel about the new nuclear plant, we ask. we are told to ask the others. and how do you feel about the construction site? they say they are not sure. and you -- are you happy about the nuclear plant? this woman says, sure, why would i not be? we ask if she is scared, and she asks what she should be scared of. >> at last, we find a died in the will supporter of nuclear energy. >> it is not dangerous for people. it is a new technology. >> that is what they thought in chernobyl, we say. >> yes, but we are building a
nuclear plant of the future. >> ride in the middle of the village, we find the only opponent willing to talk was in broad daylight, a retired school principal. his worries go beyond the ecological issues. he fears his country will become even more dependent on russia. >> we will need less gas from russia, but instead, we will need russian uranium, and russian specialists say we are not in a position to run the plant ourselves, and will never be in a position to pay back the money, so we will be completely dependent on russia. no one is allowed to talk about it, but everybody knows. it is a catastrophe for the country. >> nikolai has been outspoken and has attracted the attention of the regime.
the authorities have searched his house four times this year looking for anti-nuclear brochures, but he says he feels a responsibility towards his country, and as a retiree, he does not have much to lose. like some who spoke with us, he says, "who will speak up if i don't?" the heavy machinery rolls through the village every day on the way to the site. in 2018, belarus' first reactor block is scheduled to go online. >> polar bears have become the symbol of climate change. some 20,000 animals are estimated to live in the arctic today, but researchers have been warning that they could be extinct by the middle of the century. if the eyes continues to melt, they said, polar bears would not know how to survive. but there may be hope. it looks as the polar bears are learning to adapt to a changing environment.
>> when the cotton grass blooms and the temperatures stay above zero, then it is summer. the cliff suggested in snow, and polar bears can be seen wandering the beaches. it is hardly a summer resort, but a handful of people like this polar bear geologist, have been coming here for years. he takes us onto a ship, a relic from the past. it has been on the water for 58 years and has traveled over 1 million see miles. two polar bears live around here. with a little luck, you might see one from the val -- the bow. the ship drops us off and seems on down sell. although it belongs to norway, other nations can settle here. it was once a russian mining
outpost. now it is a ghost town. and number of expeditions have been made here, under the watchful gaze of polar bears. >> most of the time, polar bears just ignore our camps. we are probably missing most of them because they hunt at night. normally, they avoid people. >> when they do appear, the research team leads the polar bears in peace as long as they do not come into the camps or go into the provisions 10. a warning shot is all that it takes to scare them off. >> we heard that a whale got stranded in neighboring petunia day a few weeks ago. whenever a whale gets beach, polar bears will be attracted. when we got here yesterday, the russians told us they had spotted polar bears around the whale. they were just sitting out there enjoying a meal.
>> everyone has to carry a rifle for protection. it also carries one, an old german army model. people have to be prepared to scare off there's for their own protection and the bears' -- people have to be prepared to scare off bears. we get the chance to enjoy an arctic summer. little grows here, but what does has plenty of space. the longer summer seasons means there's plenty of plant life. >> these little plants are the only trees in the region. the first time i was here, my professor won me to be careful. i asked why. he told me i had just walked over a forest. of course, that was not entirely true. this is called a poll a medal. it is probably just one tree, but unlike trees at home which
broke a quartz, this tree crawls along the ground. >> the name can be found on most maps. he does research work here and teach students. this barren island was not always the end of the world. continental drift made it into such a remote location. the students want to go to the other side of the bay where the polar bears are. it is a cold ride 10 miles over the water. >> we had a situation once with two polar bears remain in the area after we made camp. it was a mother bear and her cub. they stayed in our camp area for an entire week. i too was a bit unsettling, but they never really caused us any problems. one morning, something really exciting happened. a seal floated by the beach on top of an ice pack, and when the
mother bear saudi seal, she slipped into the water. she kept her head under water, which bears normally do so the seal cannot see their eyes and nose, but she kept her behind above water so she looked like a chunk of floating ice. >> suddenly, carson told us, the mother polar bear pounds and nabbed the seal -- pounced and nabbed the seal. after four days, our ship brings us back to civilization. we have always thought that polar bears need ice and global warming would mean their demise, but our trip taught us that polar bears are real survivors. >> that report wraps up this edition of "european journal." thanks very much for watching. until next week, by for now -- bye for now. captioned by the national captioning institute --www.ncicap.org--